America’s Next Un-Civil War

America’s Next Un-Civil War

America’s Next Un-Civil War If any possible good can come from the furious partisanship and naked rage of the Kavanaugh hearings, it’s the opportunity for all Americans to take a hard look at the ugly reality gripping our government and society. It’s a reality we like to pretend doesn’t exist. When we affirm, in the pledge to the flag, “…one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” we are not acknowledging the truth about America. That “America” has never existed. At best, the pledge is aspirational, expressing the hope of what we might, in time, become –if we can somehow find a way to reconcile the deep divisions that have worked from our very beginnings as a nation to pull us violently apart. Consider the dilemmas the Founding Fathers attempted to balance creatively and purposefully in the Constitution: How should the balance of government power be vested: between the Federal Government or the separate states? How should the significant differences among the states in population (big states vs. small states) and economy (industrial vs. agricultural) be balanced so as to create a fair, functioning democracy? Underpinning these functional challenges were essential moral, economic, and political questions: Did the unalienable rights and promise of citizenship, so eloquently expressed in the Declaration of Independence, apply equally to all Americans, regardless of race, gender, national origin, economic and social status, or were the full benefits of citizenship reserved primarily for wealthy white males? Should the wealth of America be managed to benefit the owners of capital or the workers who produced that wealth? Should America be a Republic, ruled...
Time to Fix a Broken Congress

Time to Fix a Broken Congress

Regardless of which party you support (in my case, it’s neither), it should be transparently clear that Congress as a governing body is hopelessly, incurably broken. What we have, instead, with too few exceptions, are self-serving ideologues fighting for political control while working a three-day week and selling out to lobbyists to keep themselves in power.  It’s time to throw the bums out.  But only the American electorate can do that – if we Americans wake up to our responsibility. The architect of our current government dysfunction is Newt Gingrich. (What else would you expect from someone named after a lizard?)  The Tea Party Republicans (aka the radical Freedom Caucus) just caused the cancer of big-money-supported partisan wars to metastasize.  But assigning blame for the mess we’re in to Republicans is beside the point – most congressional Democrats are just as culpable and dysfunctional now as Republicans.  http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/interrogation/2017/05/is_there_any_future_in_being_a_moderate_republican.html The Democrats suffered through eight years of nasty hypocritical attacks and legislative inertia by the Republicans against President Obama. Now that Republicans are in power, most Democrats are similarly obsessed by attacking President Trump instead of putting better solutions in front of the public. To be sure, Trump’s policies should be attacked. For starters, he has abandoned his campaign commitments to the working class Americans who provided him his victory. Forget the “Buy America, Hire America” rhetoric.  With the active support of congressional Republicans, he’s reneging on his promises to foster job growth, bring manufacturing back to the United States from abroad, increase wages, protect retirees against predatory investment schemes, protect workers from greed-driven occupational harm, and ensure that all Americans,...
Canada to Close Its Borders on January 21 to American Political Refugees

Canada to Close Its Borders on January 21 to American Political Refugees

Alert to readers:  Please see note at end.   As a summertime Canadian resident at our vacation home in Nova Scotia, I check out the Globe and Mail after I return to New Jersey, and this story by Globe and Mail reporter Isaac Bickerstaff caught my attention. He cites reputable sources who report on private conversations being held among Canadian Parliamentary leaders. “We Canadians have always looked up to America,” Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau is reported to have said. “Actually,  it’s probably been a lot more like envy.  But as we see Mr. Trump  in action as the president elect, it’s turning to genuine alarm. For people less polite than we Canadians, the proper response might even be disgust.” “Mr. Trump has already established a bizarre approach to dealing with leaders of foreign governments.  He treats us as if we were  potential contestants for “the Apprentice.” I got a call from him at supper time a few days ago. Strange as it was, I took the call. I decided to end it when Mr. Trump suggested that America should just buy Canada in order to get our oil.  The next day, he tweeted this response. “Of course, Mr. Trump is buddy buddy with some foreign leaders, such as Vladimir Putin.  Actually he, and his Secretary of State choice, Exxon Mobil Corp Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson, will make a bundle from cozying up to Russia. Mr. Trump’s answer, ‘I like people who made a fortune.’  “When one looks at how you Americans elect presidents, perhaps it explains the strange people you wind up with: you spend several years and...

The Victory of Fear and Hate Over Hope and Faith

  Trump’s supporters love to chant “Time to Drain the Swamp!”   They have, now, and what do we find rotting at the bottom? A festering mass of hate and fear. The catalyst was our fear and hatred of an utterly broken  political system. Bernie Sanders’ solutions may have been unworkable, but he was 100% right about how big money has corrupted American democracy. This election cost $7,000,000,000. Think how else that much money might have been invested for the good of this country. Hatred is the lie we tell ourselves repeatedly to hide from our own guilt. WE elected the thieves and political fanatics who cripple Congress — with the support of the mega rich and their lobbyists. But there is deeper hatred behind Trump’s victory:  hatred against black, brown, yellow, and red-skinned people, hatred of “foreigners,” hatred of assertive women who seek to rise above subservience, hatred of those with “sinful” sexual preferences and religious beliefs.  It’s a big list. At the root of hatred is fear: fear that America has lost its preeminent place in the world, fear that the American dream has died for us and our children, fear that we have lost the power to shape our own future, fear that “democracy” no longer works and can’t be trusted. And unrestrained fear turns us into mindless creatures trapped in a cycle of panicked fight or helpless flight.  We lose our minds. How could we: Elect a president who eagerly welcomed the support of a Russian dictator bent on conquering Europe and restoring Soviet tyranny? Elect a president who detests, mocks, and seeks to harm anyone...

America’s New (un)Civil War – Part II

The furor over Donald Trump’s increasingly pitiful, dangerous insistence that the election is being “stolen” from him by the evil forces of tyranny abetted by a corrupted media, should be an early warning call.  The spirit of violent rebellion is rising again against the injustice and corruption of a government that has stopped listening to, serving, and respecting its people. Rebellion is deeply woven into the fabric of America’s existence. We are, as the ancient Romans would have understood, Janus-faced: one part of our instinctive, permanent character is loyalty, the other rebellion. But our survival as a democracy “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” depends on our ability to manage that inner conflict without ripping ourselves apart as a nation. It’s a daunting challenge. We were born in an act of rebellion against the legally-constituted government of Great Britain. But it was also a civil war between “Loyalists” (or Tories) against “Rebels” (or Patriots). It divided families and, pitted brothers against brothers and friends against friends. Eighty-two years later, the tensions that divide us erupted again in a frightful, tragic civil war. In my family on my mother’s side, it was called “The War Between the States,” or, more bitterly, “The War of Northern Aggression.” The Thomas family emigrated to America from Scotland in 1651 and settled in Virginia. My great grandfather, Lovick Thomas II, lived in Decatur, Georgia. He served as Colonel of the 42nd Georgia Infantry. I’ve read the diary kept by his wife, Jane Peeples Thomas and the letters they exchanged during the war. What emerges, roughly 150 years later, is a...